Frequently Asked Questions
Further information and questions you may have about VSP and Thailand.
What should I pack to take on a VSP trip?
We will send a 'what to bring list' before your visit. Recommended clothing will depend on the type of activities included in the program, and also the time of year of your visit.
Students should pack as light as possible and bring clothes that will get wet and dirty, but are lightweight and comfortable in the heat. In the cool season from November to start of February, the evenings can be quite cold, so long trousers and sleeves are essential.
Another important consideration is sensitivity to acceptable cultural dress codes. Shorts for boys and girls must be below the knees, and shoulders and other parts of the upper body should not be exposed at all. This is considered disrespectful in Thailand, and we strongly advise that the clothes worn are in keeping with this tradition. If you turn up dressed insensitively then you will be asked to change.
Students should have a daypack that is strong, comfortable and suitable for activities and as carry-on luggage on the flight. A suitcase or similar should also be used to carry clothes, toiletries etc, and also to lock up valuables whilst in our accommodation. Please make sure the suitcase has a lock, as valuables are the responsibility of each student.
Please provide your own toiletries, sun cream, hat, insect repellent, a towel and swim wear.
We have a small shop on campus that sells a few basic items such as toothbrushes and shampoo but due to the nature of our programs we are not always on campus during the opening hours. We therefore strongly recommend that all our guests bring everything they will need with them and rather than assume there will be time to visit the shop.
What kind of food is available on VSP trips?
Whilst on-campus our groups eat in the cafeteria, which serves a healthy mix of Thai and Western food. When out on activities the food is typically Thai, but we make sure it is not too spicy and plenty of choices are available. Prior to the visit, we ask if there are any allergy concerns or other specific dietary requirements so we can cater for all tastes and needs.
How much spending money is it advisable to bring on a VSP trip?
Everything on the visit is covered by the price we charge, with the exception of evening visits to markets if included in the program. Money should be brought for this visit as normally students eat and shop at their own expense. If choosing Thai food then you can easily get a meal and a drink for about THB 250, but there are other western choices and popular restaurants that will cost more. Souvenirs vary greatly in cost and there is something for every budget. Some days might include an opportunity to buy a snack or visit a gift shop so you may want to consider bringing minimum around THB 1,000 extra for these occasions, but this is down to personal choice and the duration of the visit.
Please note that sometimes students are expected to buy meals during the journey to and from Chiang Mai and this should be checked with staff at your school prior to departure.
How can families communicate with students on a VSP trip?
We suggest that parents are given a phone number of a designated member of staff at their school who is the point of contact in case of an emergency. That person will in turn be able to contact a colleague with the school visiting us in Thailand. VSP contact details will also be shared with the school trip coordinator.
Day-to-day contact is at the discretion of each school and their own policy. Some schools allow students mobile phone access at certain times of the day, others use our computers at designated times to contact home. Another popular method is that visiting staff update a trip web page daily, so that parents can log in and find out how the trip is going.
Can the VSP accommodate people with disabilities?
Yes, we will do our best to make sure everyone can enjoy our programs and we can choose suitable activities for those less able. We have wheelchair access all over our campus.
Does the VSP cater for specific dietary needs?
Yes, we request information for specific dietary needs from your school prior to the trip, and if we are informed then we are very confident we can look after any concerns, whether they are for medical or religious reasons.
Can the VSP help with religious needs?
Yes, we can arrange visits to places of worship during the visit program if they are available. We do not have a specific prayer room, but can arrange for a suitable space to be used on campus upon request.
Do students and staff need to have any vaccinations before coming to Thailand?
Please check the travel advice in your country, and talk to your doctor about the latest recommendations, but according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand there is no need to receive any special inoculations beyond what you would normally receive in your country of residence.
If you have recently travelled to a country that is listed as a Yellow Fever infected area, however, you may need to provide an International Health Certificate showing that you have been vaccinated in order to obtain your visa.
Is Thailand a malarial country?
Though malaria can be a risk in a few remote areas of Thailand, our trips and activities take place within what is considered a malaria-free zone. Being a tropical climate we cannot guarantee there is zero risk but we have not had any cases of guests contracting malaria during a trip, or for any of our staff who have worked with the program for many years.
Foreign health agencies and doctors might suggest that visitors to Thailand should take anti-malarial tablets as a precaution, but we see many cases each year of students suffering from the detrimental effects these tablets have, including severe tiredness and nausea, leading to the student not taking part in activities. In our experience it is better not to take these tablets at all, but the final decision will be up to each individual.
Naturally there are mosquitoes and we suggest that everyone takes preventative action to avoid being bitten. Insect repellent should be used and legs and arms should be covered in the early evening. Avoid wearing dark coloured clothing. Traidhos Campus is regularly sprayed during the wet season to control the mosquitoes.
Is the water safe to drink in Thailand?
It is generally not considered safe to drink the tap water in Thailand. We ensure that plenty of clean filtered drinking water is readily available for the entirety of our trips and during activities on and off campus.
Are VSP staff first aid trained?
Our trip leaders are Wilderness Advanced First Aid trained. This internationally recognised certification means they are qualified in dealing with the appropriate procedures for individuals in need of medical assistance that are more than one hour from the nearest professional medical help. This training includes dealing with many scenarios including broken bones, breathing difficulties, venomous bites, lightning strikes, upset stomachs and emergency evacuation procedures.
Please contact your local Thai Embassy or Consulate to find out about the specific requirements for obtaining a short-term tourist visa for your visit to Thailand.
Please also visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for details. VSP can help with a letter of invitation should this be required to help support your visa application.
November to February is usually dry and cooler than the rest of the year, with temperatures in the low twenties. By day it is warm with clear blue skies, but the evenings can be cold.
The hot season begins in March, with April and May being the hottest part of the year. Temperatures can go above 40°C at times. The rainy season usually starts in May and from then on it can be humid and stormy through until October, with the wettest months being August and September.
VSP runs trips throughout the year (apart from Thai New Year mid-April, Western Christmas and New Year) and most activities are available. Water activities such as white water rafting and river studies are seasonal due to river levels and safety.
Thailand - Dos and DON'Ts
Life in Thailand may be very different to where you live, and whilst the Thai people are very welcoming, kind and understanding, it is important that visitors respect the culture here and follow some guidelines:
The King is very highly respected and speaking out against the royal family in Thailand is disrespectful and is also illegal.
Many people in Thailand dress conservatively and visitors are expected to do the same and should not show or expose shoulders or midriff, wear low cut tops, and should always wear shorts that are longer than the knee. We ask that you follow the same dress code to avoid offending the local people.
A greeting is accompanied by a wai, where the hands are put together (as if you are praying) and held in front of the face/chest, as a gesture of respect. If somebody wai’s at you then you should return the gesture and wai back.
Shoes should be removed before entering a temple or houses. Shoulders and legs should also be covered when visiting a temple.
Never touch a Thai on the head, point the feet at somebody, or step over someone’s legs or food / drink.
Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon.